By Ndi Eugene Ndi
The Prime Minister, Head of Government, chair of the Major National Dialogue has disclosed that Anglophones will occupy a commanding majority of delegates to the Yaoundé peace talks.
Chief Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute made the disclosure in Yaoundé on Tuesday September 24 while receiving propositions from the Cameroon English Language Newspaper Publishers Association (CENPA) and the Cameroon Association of English Speaking Journalists (CAMASEJ).
We gathered from the PM that about 400 of the expected 600 participants at the dialogue will be Anglophones.
“I was asked to invite 200 persons from the Northwest and Southwest regions and 100 from the rest of the country but we now have 400 from the Northwest and Southwest regions and 200 from the rest of the country. So, more than two-third of the participants will come from these two regions, on the instructions of the Head of State,” the Head of Government told members of the CENPA and CAMASEJ delegations at the Star Building.
From the above statistics, NewsWatch understands that the Anglophone crisis will dominate talks at the Yaoundé Conference Center when the dialogue opens on Monday September 30.
For decades, Cameroon enjoyed relative political and social stability compared to its neighbours – Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of Congo – who faced intractable violent conflicts and political upheavals, according to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
But in the past eight years this stability has been shaken by three phenomena: the spillover of the Boko Haram insurgency from Nigeria to the northern regions of Cameroon in 2014; the flare-up of federalist and secessionist movements in the Northwest and Southwest regions in 2016; and increased organised crime in the eastern regions due to Central African Republic’s ongoing conflict.
The October 2018 presidential elections also triggered a political crisis resulting in the detention of Prof. Maurice Kamto, the president of the opposition Cameroon Renaissance Movement (MRC) who claimed he won the poll. He has been charged by the Yaoundé military court for sedition, insurrection and inciting violence.
Even though the Anglophone crisis will dominate talks at the five-day conference, other national issues will also be discussed going by President Paul Biya’s September 10 address.
“It is obvious that it [the dialogue] will touch on issues of national interest, such as national unity, national integration, living together, it cannot interest only the populations of these two regions,” President Biya said in his address.
Critics are saying however that the Anglophone crisis shouldn’t have been a pretext for discussion of national issues.
They argue that when the Anglophone issue first came up in the 1960s, the government convened the Foumban conference(1961); the first encounter between the Anglophones and Francophones, but the outcome did not solve the problem. When it resurfaced again in the 1990’s alongside other national issues like the call for multipartism and the democratization of state institutions, the government convened the Tripartite (1991) which never took into consideration the worries of Anglophones, forcing them to discuss their issues in two conference; All Anglophone Conference (AAC) I & II. It was believed that their concerns will be given a chance in the 1996 constitution, regrettably the government settled on decentralization in place a federation as desired by the Anglophones.
Twenty-three years down the line, the Yaoundé regime has never seemed to be in a hurry to even fully implement the said decentralization which it is now portraying as panacea to the country’s woes.